The Copernicus programme, coordinated by the European Commission in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and with a major contribution from the Italian Space Agency (ASI), is designed to monitor the environment and to mitigate the effects of climate change, contributing to the management of humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters and civil security.
ESA is developing six families of Sentinel satellite missions specifically designed for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The Sentinels provide high-resolution radar and optical images of our planet.
Thales Alenia Space
Thales Alenia Space has a very important role in this programme. As prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space is responsible for the constellations of the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-3 missions. The Sentinel-1A satellite (launched in April 2014) and Sentinel-1B satellite (launched in April 2016), designed and integrated entirely by Thales Alenia Space in Italia, acquire images of the Earth in “swaths” ranging from 20 to 250 kilometres in width, with resolution between 5 and 25 metres. They are equipped with a C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to provide users with continuous images, day and night, under all weather conditions. The two satellites Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B are designed to accurately provide parameters such as: sea surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, and ocean colour and above sea level land colour. ESA has recently guaranteed the continuity of the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel - 3 missions entrusting Thales Alenia Space with the responsibility of the design, development and integration of the satellites Sentinel-1C and 1D (Thales Alenia Space in Italy as prime) and Sentinel-3C and 3D (Thales AleniaSpace in France as prime).
Leonardo’s Electronics Division has provided the attitude sensors and power units that are installed on the Sentinel-1 satellites, while Sentinel-3 - the first satellite of which was launched on February 16 2016 - is equipped with SLSTR radiometers (which are able to measure the temperature of the Earth and its oceans at a range of 800 km with tenths of a degree precision) and photovoltaic assemblies, also on board the Sentinel-5 precursor.
Telespazio is one of the main industrial partners of the Copernicus programme. The company participates in the realisation, maintenance and evolution of the Payload Ground Segment (PDGS) of the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-3 missions (through Telespazio VEGA Deutschland), of the Mission Control System of Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3, Sentinel-5P, and the access infrastructure to the products of Earth observation missions (Copernicus Space Component Data Access/Coordinated Data Access System - CSCDA / CDS). In the operations area, Telespazio supports with its own staff ESOC, ESA’s Space Operations Centre, during the pre and post launch phases of the Sentinel satellites, and is responsible for the CSCDA/CDS operations and the data acquisitions of the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 missions from the Matera Space Centre (through its subsidiary e-GEOS). In addition, Telespazio is responsible until 2021 for the management of the ground segment operations for the Sentinel-3 mission. In the services area, Telespazio is active (through subsidiaries e-GEOS, GAF and Telespazio VEGA UK) in emergency management activities, land and maritime security, the management of land resources and the monitoring of climate change. Telespazio, lastly, provides the Copernicus programme with the Earth observation data of the COSMO-SkyMed and IRS missions.
Since 2012 the e-GEOS Matera Space Centre is one of the three stations of the Core Ground Segment of Copernicus and receives the radar and optical data acquired by satellite missions Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2. e-GEOS provides the European Commission with geospatial information and satellite maps of areas affected by emergencies, providing the civil protection and the competent authorities of the countries of the Union and international humanitarian Organizations, with the data necessary for the management of catastrophic events.